Chest Pain

Chest pain is one of the most frightening symptoms a person can have. This pain includes any type of pain or discomfort that occurs between your upper belly area and your lower neck. This pain is often a classic symptom of a heart attack, or its milder relative, angina – but it is also associated with several other maladies, from heartburn to pneumonia. To most people, experiencing a pain in the chest area means you are having a heart attack! In children this pain is a common complaint, often attributed to musculoskeletal conditions. Chest pain combined with a shortness of breath and/or a burning sensation are some of the common symptoms of heartburn. Lying down may relieve you from discomfort from a heart attack, but it doesn’t stop it. Heartburn, however, has nothing to do with your heart because it is a digestive problem. So we have to divide the types of chest pain into two areas – cardiac and non-cardiac. Cardiac pain is caused by a lack of oxygen to the heart muscle and can be a serious, life-threatening symptom and is the classic symptom of a heart attack. Pain from a heart attack feels like the chest is being squeezed or crushed, as if by an enormous weight or pressure is on it. Pain in the chest due to a cardiac condition is rare in children and adolescents, with a prevalence of less than 6%.

Non-cardiac pain may be caused by viruses or bacteria or be aggravated by irritants (cleaning detergents, environmental toxicity, pollution or cold air), allergens (dust mites, dander or pollen) or excessive smoking. Non-cardiac pain is also a very common and frightening symptom of panic disorder.

Heart attacks often occur after physical exertion that spikes your blood pressure. Heart pain is often radiated to teeth and jaw. A heart attack is the death of heart muscle due to the loss of blood supply. Heart attacks without chest pain are more common than originally thought, especially among women. Heart attacks kill more people in the US than any other single disease, and the main symptom that people have from a heart attack is chest pain

Causes

Causes of chest pain can vary from minor problems, such as indigestion or stress, to serious medical emergencies, such as a heart attack or pulmonary embolism. Causes of chest pain or its precipitating factors include activities like walking, jogging, running and carrying heavy workloads. Other potential causes include serious circulatory problems such as atherosclerosis, angina, pericarditis, coronary spasm or myocarditis. Exercising in cold weather can cause chest pain in some people who have no problems when they exercise in warm weather. Lung problems that can cause chest pain include blood clot in the lung ( pulmonary embolism ), a collapse of the lung ( pneumothorax ). Inflammation of the lining around the lung ( pleurisy ) can cause chest pain that usually feels sharp, and often gets worse when you take a deep breath or cough. Angina is short termed chest pain primarily caused by the lack of oxygen supply in the body and also due to the lack of waste removal from the body. The cause may be a build-up of fatty deposits, or plaque (pronounced “plak”), inside your arteries – the blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients from the heart to your body. Lack of Vitamin D can cause an array of problems and adversely affect already existing conditions, back pain included.

Symptoms

Symptoms that commonly occur with chest pain include chest tenderness and pain that increases with deep breathing or movement and can also radiate to the jaw, shoulder, neck, upper back or arm. Symptoms of heart disease include angina (characteristic on exertion) and decreased exercise tolerance. You may not think that the symptoms really hurt but they can lead to several complications. The signs and symptoms of a heart attack may start slowly, or they may happen suddenly. The symptoms of heartburn may include a burning sensation in the chest, just behind the breastbone. If you have a cold, you can have any or all of these symptoms: increased nasal discharge (a runny nose), difficulty breathing through the nose, sneezing, a scratchy throat, and cough.

Chest pain is an indicator of a pending or occurring heart attack. When you have any doubt as to the cause, you should seek medical treatment immediately. Time is the most important factor in saving your life.